A Palace, some Christmas Shopping, Wonderful Walk and Cake.
A welcome break from the mud and rain, we awoke today to a heavy frost.
After a bit of a lazy morning I shoved a casserole in the crock pot, we bundled up in our warmest winter woollies and the dogs leapt aboard for a wee trip to Dalkeith Palace and Country Park.
Blue skies and a glittering frost covered the country side and of course the elusive sunshine chased away the winter blues leaving me feeling slightly giddy and so happy to be alive.
Situated just a twenty minute drive, south east of the city centre. Post code for sat nav EH22 1ST
Or hop on a Lothian bus from the city, a number 3, 33 or 49 to Dalkeith will do the trick.
We pulled over at a rather grand entrance to the estate to take some photos. Golden sandstone walls and pillars capped with huge stone urns an elaborate wrought iron archway and gate and a very photogenic gate house, all with a back drop of naked trees and blue sky.
Back in the car, we continued down an impressively long drive way, which meandered through the woodland. The estate is over 1000 acres of woodland and working farmland, producing timber for furniture making and bio fuel, crops, cattle , sheep and pigs. In the centre of the park is the Old Oak and is an incredible 900 years old or more.
Enough of that though, I was in a shopping mood today. It’s not something that overcomes me very often, a fact that makes me wonder whether my little sister and I are even related at all. Today however, Donald was just a little apprehensive to let me loose with the credit card.
We parked the car and headed straight or the Restoration Yard. A beautifully restored 1740’s stable yard and courtyard creating an up market shopping experience. Crammed to the rafters with quality clothing for all ages, a wonderful array of books, home wares and a food hall filled with…food. Preserves, olives, local cheese and other dairy delights, wine, craft ales and gin, whisky, nibbles, cakes and pastries, chocolates and then some. Not somewhere that you’d do your weekly shop, but a place to buy special little luxury treats.
It was a great chance to buy some beautiful, thoughtful Christmas gifts in lovely relaxing surroundings, browse without the stress and hurly burly of a busy retail chain store. My idea of shopping.
Of course, those of you who know me, we had to have a coffee and cake. In the Coffee Bar, we were faced with a tempting array of home bakes and feeling not the slightest inkling to resist, I picked a slab of ginger cake and a pot of Earl Grey. The cake was moreishly moist and dense, spicy, gingery
and topped with icing and a generous grating of lime zest.
As well as the Coffee Bar, there is The Kitchen for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea.
For those with young children, there is the Fort Douglas Adventure Park. I know our boys would have loved it back in the day. I must admit I was tempted to have some fun exploring the tree houses and I love a good zip wire. We opted for a walk around the grounds instead, as Loki and Olly had been good as gold whilst we did all the boring human stuff. Time for them to let off some steam.
And let off steam they did. The frost had not thawed all day, there were plenty of families out and about with dogs of all shapes and sizes. Our boys had a grand time haring up and down the steep banks that run from the palace down to the
North Esk river and Montagu Bridge.
Having made friends with a lovely lady sausage dog named Haggis, I kid you not.(Poor Haggis didn’t quite know what to make of our two loons), we headed under the bridge to follow a woodland path that followed the river. It was so cold that a heavy mist hung above the freezing water, giving it an eerie feel.
It was all going swimmingly until Loki disappeared. To cut a long story short, we found him some thirty minutes later. On the other side of the river! I was transported back to our (human)boys sports days, standing at the finish line shouted and cheering and encouraging. Are you even allowed to do that now? Anyway, Loki took some convincing to get back into the river to cross. Already wet and cold, the temperature having struggled to get above freezing all day, he was not keen. Eventually he took the plunge and swam back across. Daft dog! Next stop home to get him dry and warmed up.
It had been a really nice afternoon. Dogs suitably tired and non the worse for a chilly dip and I happy to have made a small start on my Christmas shopping. All in all, Dalkeith Country Park comes highly recommended by us and so if you are in Edinburgh and fancy a wee trip out and the idea of a bus doesn’t appeal, give us a shout. You might even get to meet Haggis!